Love & Sex

Fifteen Stories: Things Our Parents Told Us About Sex

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Nerve readers remember the birds-and-the-bees talk.


When I was nine, an older cousin sat me down and introduced me to the contents of "The Yellow Disk," a three-and-a-half inch floppy filled with low-quality porn. Somehow, my mother caught wind of this, and decided we needed to have "the talk." So she sat me down and said, "Sex is something two grownups do when they're in love. It's like very tight hugging, usually in a bed." I'd just seen about a hundred pictures of a woman using a rather large dildo, and was feeling a little baffled; Mom's explanation didn't really help. — Ben


I was seven. My ten-year-old sister took great pleasure in terrorizing me, so she told Mom that I was hearing "the wrong things" about sex on the bus to and from school, and that Mom ought to just set the record straight. Mom sat me down and proceeded to explain to me the horrors of bleeding out of my vagina monthly, erect penises squirting god-knows-what into my Special Purpose, and bowling-ball-sized parasites emerging from between my legs. "Don't worry," Mom said, "It's just like taking a really big poop, but from your vagina." — Lisa


My dad's pretty conservative and we never had "the talk," but the closest he came was during a fight we had when I was fifteen over a woman's right to have an abortion, spurred by some "pregnancy help center" pamphlets we got in the mail. I'm pro-choice, he's not, and it was clear neither of us was budging. My dad's way of ending the argument? Declaring matter-of-factly — out of nowhere! — in his heavy New York accent, "Boys these days just wanna take off ya clothes and see ya naked," and leaving the room. Um, weird. Weird! — Jill


I think my parents were very straightforward with me, and I just didn't get it, since I distinctly recall explaining to a friend that the daddy has a sperm (which is extracted from the penis, medically, of course) and gives it to the mommy (who takes this single sperm and swallows it, like a vitamin pill.) And boom: child in tummy. This, of course, had nothing do with S-E-X, which was when two people love each other so much they want to prove how much they trust each other by being naked together. The end. — Amelia


I saw the movie Hocus Pocus three times in theaters (I was about six) and bought the VHS when it came out. I was obsessed with it. There's a whole plot point in the movie about how a candle has to be lit by a virgin in order to bring the witches back to life. I had no idea what that was, but it sounded bad, so one time at school (Catholic French school, so really hardcore) I told a classmate that she was a virgin in a really mean voice. My teacher overheard, freaked out, and sent me home early. In the car on the way home my mom very cautiously asked me, "So… do you know what a virgin is? Do you know what… sex is?" And then she gave me the whole speech, and I just remember thinking it sounded terrible. — Danielle


When I was five or six, my parents just left the book Where Did I Come From? in my room (maybe by mistake), and I read it. I then proceeded to replicate the pictures in it, at school, during "drawing time." My best friend copied my drawing, and we were both sent to the principal. To this day I believe "making love" is supposed to feel like "a gentle tingly sort of tickle" that causes "a special kind of wriggling." I like to say I'm self-taught. — Andrea


My dad asked me if I knew what a condom was… when I was fifteen. I said I thought I had the basic idea. I wish I could say he'd been reckless to procrastinate, but the sad fact is that while I obviously knew what a condom was, I was in no danger of needing one. — Pete

My doctor father told me at the same moment that he was explaining that I would now be getting my period (i.e., too late). In thick Indian accent: "Now one spermatazoa can go up the fallopian tube and impregnate your ovum! And you will have one baby! And you should not do this!" Being a good tomboy, I basically blacked out from too much information and then proceeded to get nervous around all the guys when I had my period. Thanks, Dad. — Mira


It involved an extremely earnest 1970s picture book with watercolor illustrations of people with lots and lots of pubic hair. I was horrified by the entire thing; it was beyond anything I could have imagined. I said to my mother, "You did that with Daddy?" She said yes, and I pretty much could not look at either of them for a week. — Rachel


When I asked my mom if the missionary position was the only position, she shook her head and muttered, "Sometimes it's the easiest." — Meghan


I found out about the birds and the bees when I was about seven years old, in first grade. The school day had just ended and I was riding home on the big yellow bus. My friend turned to me and said I looked like a vagina. I had no idea what he was talking about. As soon as I got home I asked my mom what a vagina was, and she explained that it was a place where babies came from. For a very long time I thought there was a town called Vagina. — Michael


My parents gave me a "learning doll" when I was seven. She was handmade, with a painted face, and she wore a gingham dress to conceal her baby bulge. She had tufty brown hair on her head and on her crotch, and if you used your fingers like forceps and reached up that mound of brown fluff, you could retrieve the tiny plush fetus. If you kept pulling, a little stuffed umbilical cord with a little stuffed placenta followed. When Mom tired of Baby, you velcroed the placenta and cord back on, and shoved the baby back from whence it came — just like in real life. — Jennifer


I didn't get a talk; I learned about sex when my parents kissed and my siblings and I yelled, "Ugh, dooon't!" My dad always responded with further provocations, like "Ma, get your tongue out of my ear, or we'll have to go upstairs," or, "Your mom likes it when I pinch her butt." Maybe this is why I like it a little rough. Freudian? Maybe. — Raydene


I'd heard a lot about this whole sex thing, from seeing it on TV to having it blamed for my young cousin getting pregnant, and I wanted to know what it was all about. So, one day while my mom was taking a shower, I came in and said "Mom, I want to know about sex." She slipped and fell from surprise, because I was only six. Thus began my future career as a sex writer. — Lauren


My parents never had that talk with me! I did walk in on them once when I was seven. Maybe they didn't find it necessary to give me the spiel because I'd already gotten the picture right then and there. — Whitney